Thursday, June 2, 2011

Client News: Botsford Cancer Center Takes Green Seriously

The George Riley Healing Garden, as an innovative aspect of the site design, earned the Botsford Cancer Center a point toward its Silver LEED certification.
The Botsford Cancer Center in Farmington Hills scored a silver rating in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, thanks to extraordinary environmental efforts in building and maintaining the 30,000-square-foot facility on Grand River.
During the past three years, those efforts have paid off, in energy and water usage far less than what would be expected with traditional construction.
The numbers are impressive: Stormwater runoff decreased by 25 percent; potable water use was reduced by 28.7 percent; energy use was reduced by 21.5 percent; and 797.36 tons of construction waste was diverted from landfills when the facility was built in 2008.
But the center is also scoring points on the human side, with satisfied patients and happy employees.
The first thing you notice when you walk through the door is how fresh the air seems. An air filtration system captures about 80 percent of dust particles as small as 1 micron (one-millionth of a meter).
Nicholle Mehr, who manages the center, said the building was constructed with products that have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including indoor adhesives and sealants, indoor paints and coatings and carpets. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs can cause "short- and long-term adverse health effects."
"I like working in this environment," Mehr said. "And our patients love the fact that it's a green facility. They like the fact they're not surrounded by chemicals."
David Ferguson, director of design and construction, said getting a medical building LEED certified was no easy task.
"Hospitals are under many, many regulations," he said, "and a lot of them are very strict. ... They're trying to work that out and have recently come out with LEED for health care buildings."
He said there are some LEED goals hospitals can't meet, such as requirements for air recirculation, "but in trade for that, you can do other things."
One innovative aspect of the hospital's design, which earned BCC a point toward LEED certification, is a healing garden located between the center and the historic Botsford Inn, once owned by Henry Ford. In 1999, Botsford Hospital purchased the inn property; a large barn on the site was moved to a home on 13 Mile Road in Farmington Hills to make way for the cancer center.
The inn had a rose garden, and stones from it were used in the walls for the new garden, hospital spokesperson Beth Montalvo said. The George F. Riley Healing Garden was built with a donation from the Riley Foundation.
Mehr said patients and family members often wander out to the healing garden, especially when a visit to the center has been particularly stressful.
"It's a very restful place," she said, adding that patients receiving chemotherapy can look down over the garden.
One aspect of LEED certification that directly affects patients is transportation. The BCC earned a point for having access to public transportation. Although SMART regional bus service wanted to establish a stop on the cancer center's campus, Ferguson said Botsford didn't want bus traffic coming through the parking lot.
Instead, the stop was placed in an acceleration lane on Grand River, from which patients have an easy walk to the center.
"These are all things you have to do," Ferguson said of the LEED process. "They force you to do the right thing."
While it has nothing to do with LEED certification, the center's holistic approach – from alternative therapies and yoga to nutrition counseling – is all part of a package that has Botsford Cancer Center patients more than satisfied with their experience.
A 2010 patient survey measured satisfaction with everything from the front desk personnel's helpfulness to wait time for treatments. All patients surveyed agreed they were satisfied with their care; more than 94 percent strongly agreed.
"We have never had a dissatisfied patient in 2½ years," Mehr said. "We are all patient advocates here. ... From a humanistic standpoint, that's our role, to make sure the patient is taken care of."
For more information about the Botsford Cancer Center, visit

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